AUGUSTA — For the first time in years, residents in western and southern Kennebec County will elect someone new in November to the District 2 seat on the Kennebec County Commissioners.

Charlotte Warren, a Hallowell Democrat who is completing her term as a state representative, and Joseph Pietroski Jr., a Winthrop Republican whose term on the Winthrop School Committee ends this year, are vying for the seat being vacated by Nancy Rines, who was first elected in 1982 and has served most terms since then.

District 2 includes Farmingdale, Fayette, Gardiner, Hallowell, Litchfield, Monmouth, Mount Vernon, Pittston, Randolph, Readfield, Vienna, Wayne, West Gardiner and Winthrop.

In Maine, every county elects county commissioners to oversee fiscal operations and policy decisions affecting county government. Kennebec County, founded in 1799, has three county commissioners, each representing about a third of the county, as determined by population. Commissioners also hear municipal tax abatement appeals and hearings on town roads and serve as municipal officials in the state’s unorganized territories.

Kennebec County now has a budget of $17.4 million and about 160 employees.

Commissioners are elected to four-year terms and receive an annual salary of $13,407. The chairman of the commissioners, who is selected annually by his or her peers, receives an annual salary of $13,768.


Pietroski, 75, who has experience in education and business, including his time as president of the Maine Bankers Association and serving on various boards, said he represents change.

Joseph Pietroski Jr.

“I don’t mean that derogatorily,” he said. “I’ve got a different type of experience. I tend to be politically and philosophically much more moderate, much more conservative in things.”

He said he believes in taxpayers getting value for what they are paying, which has not always been apparent in decision-making. While he said he does not have big social issues, he supports education, fiscal responsibility, law enforcement and paying people decent wages.

“I warn every group: When you’re getting me, it’s not just because I’ve got a lot of great ideas, but I’ve been asking a lot of questions, because I don’t know everything,” he said.

Pietroski said the Maine State Police in recent years has reduced patrols in Kennebec County, with the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office taking on additional territory. He said he feels the state has an obligation to support that expansion.

At the same time, he said he is interested in finding a way to offer a discount in property taxes to cities and towns that have their own police departments, so they are not paying for local and county police.


Charlotte Warren

Warren, 52, said she brings extensive experience in crafting budgets. She served eight years on the Hallowell City Council, with four years as mayor.

In the Maine Legislature, she has served eight years, six of them as the House chairwoman of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, which oversees the state budget for the Department of Corrections, Department of Public Safety and Maine Emergency Management Agency.

She has also served as a trustee of the Greater Augusta Utility District, which has a large budget.

“I also know how to work toward consensus,” Warren said. “I chair a very challenging (legislative) committee. We deal with drugs and jails and crime and prisons and guns. We deal with some tough issues.”

Because the committee deals with issues that can be partisan, Warren said members work to craft unanimous recommendations for the full Legislature to consider.

Added to her experience, Warren said, is her training as an educator and a social worker. She has master’s degrees in education and social work.


Warren said she favors employing a regional approach, where practical, to take on issues, including affordable housing, and to save money for organizations across the county, by eliminating duplication of expenditures by purchasing at scale.

“I’m still hungry. I want to create change,” she said. “I’m still somebody who loves this work. That’s why I’m the right person for the job.”

Both candidates said county residents are largely unfamiliar with the county government and what commissioners do. Both also said they favor making commissioners’ meetings more accessible to more county residents.

The commissioners now meet at noon on the first and third Tuesday of each month at Hill House, the county government building at 125 State St. in Augusta. All meetings are held there, with the exception of one county budget public hearing, which must be held in the northern part of the county and is traditionally set for Waterville.

Pietroski said he would like to have the meetings livestreamed on the internet and links to meetings posted on the county website so county residents can watch them at their convenience.

Warren said she would also like to bring more transparency to meetings by holding them in places other than Augusta, at times when more people are not working.

She also said she would like to revamp the county’s website and ensure information is shared on social media platforms.

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